The Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry (Nap. Cavalry Regiment #34)

There’s a documentary TV series running on the BBC which features the work of the Household Cavalry. On a very recent episode, the cavalry (horses and soldiers both) were shown on their annual summer camp. Once a year, over 100 men and horses head off to Norfolk to undergo training including a ride over Holkham beach, plunging into and out of the surf.

This is all happening just a stone’s throw from Holkham Hall where, nearly 221 years ago, the Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry were first raised by Thomas Coke from amongst local volunteers. Surprisingly, it seems the mounted cavalry tradition continues in Holkham right up to this day!

Whereas the Household Cavalry are regulars, Coke’s Holkham Yeomanry were part-timers, local men to the area and were equipped by the wealthy Coke with some assistance from the government with its military supplies.

Research has led me to believe they would have looked similar to the 10th Light Dragoons, Coke having petitioned the Prince of Wales (the regiment’s honorary colonel) to adopt the same colours. Two sergeants of the 10th were ordered up by the Prince of Wales to train the troop in the standards of the British army’s light cavalry drill.

My Holkham Yeomanry’s uniform consists of:

  • blue jacket with white edging
  • white breeches
  • pale yellow facings
  • white braid (white-silver for officers)
  • tarleton helmet with a black turban and silver chains
  • brass chain wing shoulder scales
  • black boots

For added decoration, I painted on to the figures some brass chain wings on the shoulders rather than going with the sculpted straps. It’s a style I’ve seen on other yeomanry troops of this era, including the Sussex and Warwickshire cavalry.

I spent a little time on the helmets to include a brass rim around the peaks and also silver chains holding the turban in place, not included by the sculptor.

Pointing the way to Holkham beach… for this figure shown above I removed his weapon and left him gesturing with a finger.

In my previous post on the horses, I mentioned the pale yellow shabraques including a device in the corners with a black shape on a red background to indicate the ostrich device seen on the Holkham Yeomanry’s standard on display in Holkham Hall.

I’ve extended this theme for the officer’s sabretaches – being a yellow background, edged with red, with a central device in the centre and a gold crown above (not seen in these photographs but since corrected!). Three black dots to the side and below indicate the H, Y and C initials of the troop.

For the officers, they have a crimson sash around the waist and a little extra braiding which I added to create some ornate Austrian knot cuffs. To better differentiate the two figures, I’ve given one a twist of the head and arm. I’ve also provided him with greying hair thinking he could serve as the middle-aged Thomas Coke (the same age as yours truly – there’s time to raise my own regiment yet…). Instead, I have other plans for Coke and will perhaps instead nominate the figure to be his Troop’s 2nd-in-command, Captain Edmund Rolfe;

The other officer I propose to be Lieutenant George Hogg;

For the trumpeter figure, I’ve kept it simple. No fancy trumpet cords, just the brass instrument itself. Also, no expensive uniform in reverse colours or bandsman’s epaulettes; just the grey horse distinctive to all cavalry trumpeters.

With my men and horses now painted. There is one more element to my Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry project still to come: a recreation of a scene reported on by the local paper where the standard was presented to the troop by the lady of Holkham Hall, Mrs Jane Coke. I’ve now ordered my chosen figures for this scene and am awaiting delivery…

Just leaves me to conclude with a gallery of some more pics of the troop (click to ’embiggen’), followed by a brief regimental history.

Biography: The Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry [Great Britain]
  • Raised by Thomas Coke of Holkham Hall after petitioning the Prince of Wales in May 1798.
  • Coke appointed Commandant, 19th July 1798.
  • The HYC receive their standard on the south lawn of Holkham Hall, 6th October 1798.
  • Initially consisted of 2 troops numbering approx 50 men each.
  • Officers consist of Major Commandant Thomas William Coke; Captain Edmund Rolfe; Lieuts. George Hogg and Martin Folkes-Riston; Cornets Jason Gardner-Bloom and John Ward.
  • Briefly disbanded in 1802 (following the Peace of Amiens) but re-raised again the following year.
  • Attached to the 1st Regiment of the newly organised Norfolk Yeomanry together with the Norfolk Rangers, the Lynn & Freebridge, the Smithdon & Brothercross, and the Marshland Troops.
  • The whole regiment later adopts the Norfolk Rangers’ uniform (green jackets).
  • Disbanded for good, 1828.

The links below to my previous posts also provide further information: :

12 thoughts on “The Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry (Nap. Cavalry Regiment #34)

  1. Well Marvin mate what can I say but brilliant ,what you have done with these little guys would make the sculptor proud .As you well know these are one of my favourite sets from Strelets and I have painted a set although I am yet to use them so I know how fine your brush work had to be especially on that tiny sabretache ,superb mate .
    It’s lucky you did these before I put mine up ,now I can go back and make some improvements ,ha ha .The other thing that has impressed me is that I can’t work out which guy you have used as the fellow pointing the way ,that’s what I call a good subtle conversion ,and I have the set in front of me! .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pat, really glad that they get your approval. I’ve been enjoying this little project. Now I look at it, I’m not even sure myself which one the pointing guy came from! He’s one of favourite figures from the set, peculiar as he is.

      I can see why you like this Strelets set so much. I’m looking forward to seeing you present your boys too, when their ready. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha Ha ,see mate a little tweek here and there and you have come up with the mystery man ! that’s the bit I like when admiriing others work trying to work which one they were originally and like yourself I to have forgotten this with some of mine !
        I have just bought the Srelets ACW 159 set to add to there 158 skirmishing guys I’m painting up for Berdan’s sharpshooter dio I’ll be doing in spring .

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, John. I try to bring out something of the character and detail of Streets. Got a few more metal 1/72 civilians to add to this Holkham Yeomanry project!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Superb work Marvin. My wife and I often holiday in Norfolk. Holkham Hall and Holkham Bay are regular stops for us when we do. Learning of these Napoleonic era connections is fabulous, as are your figures. I’ll have to make sure one of our future visits coincides with that Yeomanry event you mention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Sebastian! North Norfolk is a regular destination for my wife and I too. If you’re interested, I’ve just today concluded this project with a post of a ‘display’ of sorts featuring some of the Holkham personalities, (Coke and his wife presenting the standard the HYC)!

      Many thanks for your interest and best wishes!



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